Everything I Need to Know I Learned at Camp by Steve Creighton

In 1988 Robert Fulghum wrote All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. This book remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for all of 1989 and most of 1990, the second longest run in the list’s history. Because of the book’s success, there was an assortment of merchandise created around its themes. The one I remember growing up was the t-shirt with a list of things one learns in kindergarten that can be applied to the rest of life such as “Share everything. Play fair. Clean up your own mess.”

The list continues, but as my childhood included an annual trip to camp, I grew to like the idea that “everything I need to know I learned at camp.” From friendships and relationships to God and Christian Science, many of life’s lessons were learned at camp.

As one of the few campers without goggles, I remember learning how to swim with my eyes closed. I had a hard time with this one. I tried to swim straight, but by the time I stood up and looked around, I had swum in a giant J and was facing the opposite direction. I looked around to my fellow campers who were all trying to suppress their laughter, and I was rather embarrassed. Lesson learned: be prepared.

I remember meeting my best friends at camp, and now some of them are married with children, which is still a little strange for me. I remember one summer in middle school where I climbed up on top of one of the cabin roofs to talk to a close friend of mine. Our counselors couldn’t get him to come down as he had recently received some bad news. I sat for a long time before he shared what was bothering him. Lesson learned: go out of your way to be a good listener.

Once I became a counselor, I remember figuring out how powerful right thinking was. On one particular afternoon, I was belaying the hard side of the climbing wall. Our morning session had been a bit slow, and we ended up rushing, finishing late. When I first glanced at the afternoon group that had chosen to try the more challenging side, I was apprehensive about their abilities and their chances of having a quality experience in the allotted time. I quickly rejected this thought as it had not come from God and instead expected each of them to experience an abundance of qualities like freedom, joy, and strength. One move at a time. Without limits and with lots of encouragement, each participant made it to the top. I was shocked at the difference changing my thought had made on the outcome of the activity. Lesson learned: your thoughts determine your experience.

And finally, I remember seeing firsthand how one’s daily spiritual preparation pays huge dividends when you least expect it. Each morning, I dutifully woke up early to study the daily Bible lesson seeking out understanding and inspiration. When, towards the end of the summer, there seemed to be an emergency out on the flag trip, my prayers were inspired and spontaneous. The healing power of the Christ worked quickly and effectively. Would I have traded any one of those morning study sessions for an extra half hour of sleep? Not a chance. Lesson learned: pray daily and know that inspiration is unlimited and abundant.

What lessons have you learned at camp? What beliefs, principles, or truths have you gained from coming to camp that stay with you during the rest of the year? I encourage each of you—campers, counselors, and alumni—to take a few moments and write down a lesson that you have learned at camp. Send your responses to camp, and we’ll post them on our website. Yes, we can look forward to camp, but let us not forget to live the lessons we have learned each and everyday. The world needs your example, your excellence.

(We look forward to hearing from you. Please send responses to

[email protected] or [email protected].)


I totally agree with the phrase, “Everything I Know I Learned at Camp”.  Camp has taught me some of the most important lessons of my life, in addition to many practical activities and concepts.  Camp, in conjunction with my family, shaped me into the man I am today.

Now, when I say “camp,” I am summarizing the great friends I have made, the counselors I look up to, and the activities and skills I have learned at Leelanau.  The word “camp” encompasses every good thing about that special place.

In terms of practical application of activities and concepts, camp is a great instructor.  I learned to shave at the age of 13 from one of my counselors that summer. I became a very proficient canoer because of camp. Through the many opportunities to perform and develop my talents, camp helped me to discover and establish my acting abilities.  I am now pursuing a career as a professional actor.  Camp also allowed me the opportunity to cook on the trail and develop those skills.  I am now actively honing my skills in baking and pastry.  Camp also taught me to love the trail and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.  I am now sharing this love and appreciation with the next generation.

When I first started coming to camp, I was 10.  Camp was a huge change from the lackadaisical summers that I was used to.  I thought, initially, that by going to camp I would miss out on so many things during the summer.  Throughout that first summer I went backpacking, rock climbing, played Dune Apocalypse, and discovered the delicious bliss that is “Mama Spatch.”  It wasn’t until I went to camp that I realized just how many things I had been missing out on in life by not going.  Lesson learned: Stepping outside of your comfort zone is the only way to experience all that life has to offer.

My CT summer came along many years later.  I gained so much insight as a CT about making the right choices and how to live my life.  We went on many long, hot runs that summer and, for the most part, I did not enjoy those runs especially when we had to run back and get the slowest guy.  Immediately following camp, I attended my high school varsity training camp.  On our first run, I finished in the top three and instinctively turned around and ran back two miles to run with a freshman who had the belief of asthma.  Eventually we crossed the finish line together.  My coach called us all together and listed off the qualities that make a great leader, namely, to look out for everyone on your team.  He then made me a team captain.  Lesson learned: As a leader, you look out for everyone on your team.

The following summer, as a first year counselor, I discovered my ability to be a healer.  Every day at camp you see the application of fundamental Christian Science, which is the understanding of the nothingness of error.  Healing occurs all day, every day.  I studied the Bible and Science and Health daily that summer and this study heightened my understanding of healing.  At the end of the summer, I healed a camper of poison ivy, and a revelation hit me.  Lesson learned: Christian Science does work—use it!

I give thanks every day for the “little slice of heaven” that camp is to all of us.  I would not be the man I am today without camp.  The growth in character and Christian Science that one experiences at camp IS “second to none, sir!”

The Burg


Camp has been home to me for the past nine summers and there is no better place to have fun and to learn about yourself and Christian Science.  Before coming to camp I would spend my summers being lazy and watching TV.  I would spend time with my friends but we would always do the same things and never had many real adventures.  When I was nine years old my parents decided that it would be a good idea for me to go to camp during the summer.  Although I was uncomfortable with this idea at first, going to camp has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Camp has shown me the practical application of Christian Science and its effectiveness in overcoming all of life’s challenges. I was raised in Christian Science and strongly supported by my family, but camp allowed me to see that there were other people like me out there who relied on God for spiritual guidance and healing.  At camp we study the weekly Bible Lesson every day and learn about all of the wonderful inspiration that can be found in Science and Health. When quiet time ends we take what we learn with us to our activities and prove the effectiveness of what we have been studying. Camp provides a firm foundation from which young boys and girls can draw inspiration and spiritual strength in the face of any challenge. I have learned more about myself and have grown more in my understanding of Christian Science at camp than anywhere else.

Camp has provided me with opportunities that I would have never been able to have anywhere else.   Every morning at camp I was able to learn how to do some cool new activity that I would have never experienced at home.  I was able to participate in archery, silversmithing, kayaking, canoeing and riflery.  I also had the opportunity to face my fear of heights and climb on the climbing wall and the high ropes course.   I also got to play sports with all of my Leelanau brothers and learn how to be competitive and have good sportsmanship.

Camp also helped me to go on the most amazing camping trips.  On these trips I learned to have a greater appreciation for nature and learned how to live in the woods.  On Leelanau camping trips, I was able to spend time with my friends on overnights and capture the flag trips.  I have been canoeing, hiking and kayaking in the Upper Peninsula and Canada in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world.  These trips have given me some of the greatest memories of my life and I definitely would never have done anything like them if I had not spent my summers at Camp.

The great friends that I enjoyed them with made every one of these experiences even better. I have met many lifelong friends while at camp and I have always looked forward to coming back each year to see my Leelanau brothers.  We live, learn and grow together and the friendships that you make at camp last forever.

Camp has taught me a lot about life and myself and I am sure that I am a better person for the time that I have spent at Leelanau.  Every day at camp the counselors showed me that it is cool to practice Christian Science in your daily life.   They proved that sticking to your morals and what you believe in makes your life better instead of keeping you from having fun.  When I grew up and was confronted with friends who did things that were wrong, the lessons that I learned at camp gave me the strength to uphold my moral principles and not follow along.   I know that being away from home over the summers helped me learn that I could be a Christian Scientist even when my parents were not around and that I never had to compromise what I believe.  These lessons made my transition to college much easier and my life much more harmonious.

I know that the spiritual atmosphere at Leelanau and Kohahna blesses every camper who spends a summer on Pyramid Point.  I think that coming to camp is the best decision that anyone can make.

David Libbe


Camp Leelanau has always been a learning experience for me. Looking back over my career as a camper, I have realized that I was always learning new things. It is an integral part of doctrine practiced at Leelanau; always be learning.

Naturally there are very tangible things that I learned during my time as a camper; how to make a fire, how to make a quality square-corner on my bed, how to navigate a woods, and yes, even a few cooking skills. (And of course the list goes on!) But we’re talking about the things that we need to know, and I believe that this is where camp thrives.

Every year, campers are thrust into a cabin with several other guys their age. At first, things may seem a bit out of place. There may be some newcomers or there may not be. Cabins often struggle a little at the beginning to find any sort of cabin unity. But, as the individuals realize their part within the group, the cabin grows closer. They become brothers. I’ve seen it happen every year in my cabin and it really is an amazing thing to see. I will never forget what it felt like to complete training week with my 11 CT brothers.

And it is an important skill to learn! Learning how to work as a cohesive unit is something that is useful throughout your life. The team environment is something almost universally common to whatever you choose to do in life, and Leelanau is more than adept at fostering the skills to make those relationships work.

But most certainly the glue that holds all of this together is the firm foundation in Christian Science. At Leelanau, we are constantly practicing the creed of Christian Science in whatever activity we do. We assert the nothingness of error and infinitude of Truth through our daily study of Christian Science. Nothing is taught more rigorously than Christian Science. Through it, our day is guided and governed by the loving Spirit of God. Campers learn to understand this every day; and if that’s not a something that needs to be learned, I don’t know what is.

Jim Ray


Camp “solidified me” as a Christian Scientist.  I grew up in a large family, we attended a great Sunday School every week and my parents and grandparents were great examples of Christian Science………….shining examples of how to live Christian Science.  I considered myself a Christian Scientist but it was when I spent summers with counselors who were awesome role models and outstanding citizens of the world that I made my commitment.  I still have the best memories of who these counselors were and how they lived and demonstrated Christian Science; I still see a few of them and still “look up to them”.